Meet the Co-Founder Team at rready
Being a spin-off from a well-established company like Swisscom can provide credibility, but it also brings its own set of challenges. How has rready managed to maintain its startup agility while leveraging the backing of a larger organization?
Swisscom was the perfect starting point for rready in several ways:
Firstly, we never intended to commercialize the innovation program ‘KICKBOX’, but rather focused on responding to the needs we discovered while working at Swisscom. Hence, we built an innovation program in response to the lack of transparency for top management when it comes to funding bottom-up innovation projects. We took into account the amount of resources spent on early-stage ideas, and providing employees with educational opportunities to apply their skills in order to foster innovation. As a result, we lived what we now preach: Don’t build a product before finding a customer need.
Secondly, the moment we decided to build a product for other companies, based on the internal program, Swisscom gave us credibility and we could show the proven ROI of the first years of running the program at Swisscom.
The decision we took together with the C-Level of Swisscom, to do the spin-out, made sense for both parties: Our market was too international for Swisscom, a SaaS-business was not part of Swisscom’s core competencies and providing an innovation product did not form part of their key focus areas. Although we profited from Swisscom’s environment in the market test phase, the corporate structures and processes were not suitable for us during the growth phase. The spin-out allowed us to hire talent faster and reduced the challenges of invoicing and contracting.
Startups often face the challenge of funding and financial sustainability. How has the relationship with Swisscom impacted rready’s growth and financial stability since its inception?
During the spin-out, our setup was comparable to that of any other Seed Startup. Hence, the investment made by Swisscom during the inception phase was turned into shares for Swisscom Ventures, and we received additional funding from VCs such as FYRFLY Venture Partners, Equity Pitcher, and Verve.
The planning changed however: From reporting to an annual corporate budget to ‘runway’, ‘monthly burn’, and ARR growth.
How does rready’s innovation software solution contribute to enhancing employee engagement and idea management?
During the past years, we realized that idea management software is a hygiene factor for corporates. In our opinion, a solution that collects ideas from employees and turns them into actual projects is essential for every company. However, it is not enough. Just managing ideas through an online workflow does not create an engaged team base, the learning effect for employees is minimal and the ideas are not tested thoroughly. Hence, we added the KICKBOX methodology to upskill employees, and derisk ideas quickly and based on data, thereby identifying the most valuable ones.
Through the platform, users can book services directly, engage with ideas, and act as subject matter experts, while the management receives a powerful report on how much money is spent where, how long it takes to retire an idea, and how ROI is calculated.
KICKBOX, our flagship product, has been successful in turning employee ideas into valuable business cases. In the past years, we also discovered other needs in corporate innovation and the Series A funding will be used to further commercialize our newly built platform to respond to customer needs such as running hackathons, open innovation, or accelerator programs.
What are some success stories or case studies of companies that have implemented rready’s end-to-end solution and experienced significant benefits?
The success stories are mainly in two areas: Business Impact and Cultural Transformation/ Employer Branding.
Some of the highlights include:
-> Implenia’s patented, eco-friendly tunnel construction element , developed using KICKBOX by rready.
-> delivered $8 million in cost savings and revenue during a yearlong pilot at a company with a $30B+ market cap
-> Siemens Energy, secured 12 new patents in 18 months using KICKBOX by rready
-> Swisscom building a 4000-employee-strong innovation community leading to ten spin-offs and over 25 implemented projects
-> Several implemented projects at companies such as ZF, Tetra Pak, or Implenia
Employee engagement is a critical aspect of any business. How does rready ensure sustained engagement and participation from employees over time?
Great question! It is important to regard innovation and employee engagement not as a once-off investment but instead it must become an ongoing discipline (including reporting and accounting to show the value added).
To engage employees over a longer period, we leverage gamification on the software as well as an ongoing marketing campaigning strategy. The more active employees are as innovators, sponsors, or experts, the more badges they collect and are able to display on their profile. Additionally, the marketing wheel needs a constant spin to tell the successful intrapreneurial stories, add a next campaign focused on a certain topic, and reach employees who are not at a desk , such as blue-collar workers. rready does not only provide the software and methodology but regards itself as a ‘partner in crime’ to support the customer in keeping the level of engagement consistently high throughout the company.
How does rready simplify the innovation process for companies and make it more accessible to their workforce?
The process is only a means to an end. Hence, it does not matter too much if it is a two-, three- or four-stage-gate process. However, the process should be simple and easy to engage with: In our case, we got rid of all technical jargon and made sure that the ‘execution’ part is central to the process As a result, the steps of the process are Red, Blue and Gold. The first phase (RedBox) is designed to be open for any ideas, to lower the barrier and give the innovator the chance to find out for him-/herself if and how the idea could be of any value. This results in high engagement and motivation and a data-driven approach to stop/ continue pursuing ideas.
Could you share any key challenges or obstacles rready faced during its own startup journey, and how they were overcome?
One of the main challenges being a small growth startup is always the split between exploiting (focus) and exploring new business opportunities. Post spin-out we focused heavily on exploiting: We were driven by the goal of providing an excellent customer experience making sure that our product delivers value to our customers. By now, we have a small team exploring new use cases such as ‘continuous improvement’, ‘startup collaboration platforms’ or ‘accelerators’ as we have built software capabilities relevant for those use cases. However, finding the right balance between EXPLORE and EXPLOIT is challenging.
Scalability is often a concern for startups. How does rready plan to expand its services and reach a wider audience in the future?
As mentioned in my previous answer, our current focus is more on exploring other use cases of KICKBOX as we see many unsolved challenges relating to corporate innovation and transformation. Luckily, we know the method quite well to test and de-risk new ideas, hence, we’re using our own ’KICKBOX’ method to test and validate our very own ideas. This resulted in a platform solution focused on ‘Continuous improvements’ going live at ÖKK and Swisscom. We’re also about to launch a platform for an accelerator program for an international corporation.
Lastly, what is the long-term vision for rready, and how do you see it impacting the corporate landscape in the coming years?
We want to create innovation leaders by empowering employees to innovate. We believe it is more important than ever before to monitor, control and channel the innovation initiatives (and resources) into the right direction – controlling how much money is spent, following a lean approach and doubling-down once data shows that an idea can turn into a valuable case for the corporate.
This is what we want to achieve through all our products: Channeling innovation efforts, identifying the most valuable opportunities for the corporate in a lean way, and doubling-down on these. While always keeping the people at the center of it all.